What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a primary care profession, focusing on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal disorders, and the effects of these conditions on patients’ general health. Using many of the diagnostic procedures applied in conventional medical assessment, osteopaths seek to restore the optimal functioning of the body.

Osteopathy is based on the principle that the body has the ability to heal, and osteopathic care focuses on strengthening the musculoskeletal systems to treat existing conditions and to prevent illness. Osteopaths’ patient-centred approach to health and well-being means they consider symptoms in the context of the patient’s full medical history, as well as their lifestyle and personal circumstances. This holistic approach ensures that all treatment is tailored to the individual patient.

Osteopaths are trained to examine areas of the body using a highly-developed sense of touch, known as palpation, to determine conditions and identify the body’s points of weakness or excessive strain. Osteopathy is a “package” of care that includes skilled mobilising and manipulative techniques, reinforced by guidance on diet and exercise. The osteopath will discuss with the patient the most appropriate treatment plan, estimating the likely number of sessions needed to treat their condition effectively. If the osteopath thinks that the condition is unlikely to respond to osteopathic treatment, the patient will be advised on how to seek further care.

Osteopaths are skilled in diagnostic techniques and trained to identify when a patient needs to be referred to a GP. Increasingly osteopaths are working alongside GPs and other healthcare professionals, providing treatment both privately and through the NHS.

(British Osteopathic Association)